San Antonio is certainly a city known for its authentic Tex-Mex cuisine and excellent steakhouses. The area’s rich German heritage mean there”s good beirgartens and deli’s, and new chefs has brought other influences and cuisine.
Here’s our favorites:
1. Boudro’s On the RiverWalk
The RiverWalk is full of hit-or-miss restaurants, but Boudro’s on the RiverWalk has a much-deserved reputation as a landmark dining destination. Boudro’s specializes in fresh gulf seafood and Southwestern dishes. Eat riverside or inside. Start with a Prickly Pear Margarita and Guacamole made table-side. The restaurant gets crowded, so prepare for a wait – read more here (Photo by The Sharpteamm)
2. Il Sogno Osteria
Il Sogno Osteria is located in the historic Pearl Brewery and offers well-prepared takes on the casual fare one might find in a Roman trattoria. Chef Andrew Weissman is a French-trained San Antonio native who has been nominated twice for James Beard “Best Chef” awards. Il Sogno Osteria also serves an excellent breakfast featuring local fresh fruits and vegetables along with meats and eggs from local farmers. For dinner, try the Atomica Pizze with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Satami, Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Capers and Mozzarella – read more here (Photo by John W. Schulze)
3. Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery
Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery is located in the Market Square/El Mercado area west of downtown San Antonio and has been open since 1941. Like the rest of Market Square/El Mercado, Mi Tierra is loud, large and touristy, but it is also authentic Tex-Mex. The margaritas are really good, and the warm tortillas are made in-house. The Enchiladas de Pollo en Mole feature two chicken enchiladas topped with rich, savory mole sauce. Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery is open 24 hours – read more here (Photo by Cortney Martin)
4. The Cove
The Cove is a restaurant, beer garden, live music venue, car wash, laundromat, dog park, and playground – all in one location. Why go anywhere else? The food at The Cove leans toward organic, sustainable and local, and their Texas Beer Garden has over 50 Texas beers on-tap. Favorites include the Fish Tacos with grilled tilapia, cilantro , spicy poblano sauce in a corn tortilla, and the Texas burger with Ana’s refried beans, corn chips, grilled yellow onion, cheddar cheese, avocado, and salsa. The Cove has beer and wine tastings on certain Thursdays every month – check their web site for details and for their live music schedule – read more here (Photo by Grant Laird Jr,)
Cured offers small charcuterie plates full of deep, bold flavors in a small courtyard at the Pearl Brewery, plus craft cocktails and an excellent selection of beers and wine. Chef Steve McHugh spent many years working for New Orleans’ chef John Besh before moving to San Antonio to open Lüke, which was Besh’s first restaurant outside of New Orleans. When he opened Cured in 2013, McHugh focused on sourcing local meats and ingredients – much of it from the farmer’s market just outside – and then butchering the animals in house and uses as much of the animal as possible. The charcuterie meats are aged from 30 days to 12 months and proudly displayed in a humidity controlled locker in located in the middle of the restaurant. Everything from house-made sausage to house-made mustard and pickles graces the menu. Most diners enjoy sampling from small plates instead of ordering an entire entree. The wine list includes many value-priced boutique selections – read more here (Photo by Nan Palmero)
6. Esquire Tavern
Esquire Tavern contributes to the Texas ethos that bigger is better by boasting the claim of having the longest bar in the state – over 100 feet of beer-soaked wood welcomes thirsty customers. The bar opened in 1933 at the end of Prohibition and also boasts having the oldest bar on the RiverWalk (despite shutting down from 2006 to 2011). In it’s early days, the bar was often used as a meeting place for the dangerous Mexican Mafia. A VIP Room upstairs was used for prostitution. It later became a notorious dive bar before it finally closed down. Major renovations were done when Chris Hill bought the building in 2008. Today, the dimly-lit environs are still frequented by a diverse clientele of tourists, hipster, and local politicians. The servers are friendly, the upscale bar food is very good, the craft cocktails are awesome, and there’s live music. Besides the bar seats, there’s big, comfy booths. Animal heads adorn the walls. There are a few outdoor tables that overlook the action on the RiverWalk – read more here (Photo by H. Michael Karshis)
7. Liberty Bar
The Liberty Bar is situated in a beautiful, relaxed setting in a former Benedictine convent that dates back to 1883 and still retains much of its original character. The eclectic menu runs the gamut from Mediterranean to Latin American, and they bake their own bread, cakes, and pies. There is also a coffee bar on-site. Favorite dishes include the Bloody Marys and the Goat Cheese Appetizer with Garlic, Chile Morita and Piloncillo Sauce with Toasted Bread – read more here (Photo by H. Michael Karshis)
8. La Gloria
La Gloria features flavorful and delicious street foods and drinks from interior Mexico in a vibrant and festive cantina in the historic Pearl Brewery just north of downtown San Antonio. The menu is not the typical Tex-Mex fare. Chef and owner Johnny Hernandez is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and he formed the idea for the restaurant after spending time traveling through Mexico and sampling the simple foods offered by street vendors. An enticing mix of ceviches, tacos, tlayudas, sopes, tortas, and bubbly hot molcajetes fill the menu. To wash it all down, there’s a long list of hand-crafted tequila cocktails, margaritas, and cervezas. The setting is an industrial space that has been made casual with Mexican Day of the Dead skulls and other artwork providing a funky, celebratory flavor. There is outdoor seating overlooking the RiverWalk – read more here (Photo by Kent Wang)
Rosario’s restaurant is a perennial award winner for their authentic salsa, mole, enchiladas and mojitos, earning accolades from publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Southern Living. When Lisa Wong opened Rosario’s in 1992, it was a pioneer in the revitalization of the historic Southtown/King William neighborhood. By sure to try Rosario’s Mexican Handshaken Margarita with Hornitos Reposado, Gran Gala, Cointreau and fresh Lime Juice, served on the rocks with a Salted Rim – read more here (Photo by Todd Dwyer)
10. Bakery Lorraine
Bakery Lorraine is a bakeshop at the old Pearl Brewery that specializes in colorful French macarons and also serves cookies, croissants, tarts, muffins, and other pastries. In addition to the baked goods, breakfast sandwiches are served in the morning, and salads and sandwiches for lunch. The bakery is owned by the husband and wife team of Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng, who met while baking at Thomas Keller’s famous Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley. Before making their way to San Antonio in 2010, they spent time working in some of the top bakeries in the San Francisco Bay Area. They opened a spot in an old cottage on Grayson Street in 2011 and quickly outgrew it, so they moved their operation to The Pearl in 2014. Lorraine is located next to a courtyard and directly across from the coffee shop Local Coffee – read more here (Photo by gina pina)
11. Dough Pizzeria Napoletana
Dough Pizzeria Napoletana is one of only 54 locations in the United States to be certified by the L’Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana for serving authentic Pizza Napoletana. Dough Pizzeria Napoletana makes their own mozzarella, have their own herb garden, and have a wood-burning oven from Naples, Italy. Favorites include the Truffle and Mascarpone Burrata with house-pulled truffle burrata, Colorburst Farms tomatoes, rosemary balsamic reduction – all on flatbread. Fans of all-thing-pork will enjoy the Pork Love Pizza with sopressata salami, sausage, pancetta, speck, house-pulled mozzarella, and tomato sauce. Dough also has house-made gelatos, sorbettos and Italian sodas – read more here (Photo by Colleen Pence)
12. Biga on the Banks
Biga on the Banks offers up sophisticated and creative dining in a casual restaurants on the River Walk. Chef Bruce Auden has been nominated numerous times for the James Beard “Best Chef Southwest” award, and his menu reflects his Texas roots and Southwestern influence. Favorites include the Shiner Bock Onion Rings with habanero ketchup and pickled peppers, and the 11-spiced Texas Axis Venison and Grilled Texas Quail with parsnip puree, chestnuts, Brussels sprouts, cranberry raisin chutney and juniper sauce. All of the desserts at Biga are noteworthy, but the Sticky Toffee Pudding is the definite favorite – read more here (Photo by Kimberly Vardeman)
13. Restaurant Gwendolyn
Restaurant Gwendolyn takes the concept of preparing food back to the very basics. Chef and owner Michael Sohocki looks to the past for inspiration, which means there is a lack of modern machinery in his kitchen, and that none of his perishable ingredients travel further than a horse could carry it to get to his kitchen. There are no short-cuts. Whole animals are bought and butchered in-house, and every part of the animal finds a place on the menu. The meats are dry-aged on site, and they smoke their own bacon, make their own sausage, and render the fat. All fruits and vegetables are sourced from within 150 miles of the restaurants, and many are canned, pickled, or preserved on-site for use later in the year. The coffee is brewed in an old vacuum brewer that does not require electricity. The prix fixe three and five-course menus features upscale, New American cuisine and is served in a wonderfully restored old Victorian home on a quieter part of the RiverWalk. The menu changes almost every day in order to take advantage of fresh offerings – read more here (Photo by Restaurant Gwendolyn)
14. Schilo’s Delicatessen
Schilo’s Delicatessen is old and comfortable – in a good way. It’s been open since 1917 on Commerce Street in downtown San Antonio – just inside the RiverWalk. Schilo’s is known for their homemade Root Beer, Split Pea Soup, Reuben Sandwiches and Hot Mustard. Their German Potato Pancakes come with Homemade Applesauce, and the Cheesecakes are made in-house. Schilo’s also has a good selection of German and Texas beers – read more here (Photo by H. Michael Karshis)
15. Alpine Haus Restaurant
Alpine Haus Restaurant brings authentic Bavarian cooking and a fun outdoor biergarten to a restored historic building in New Braunfels, just north of San Antonio. The Texas Hill Country has plenty of German heritage, and the family-run Alpine Haus is an excellent place to sample traditional Schnitzels, Rinder Rouladen, Sauerbraten, Rinder Goulash, Schweinebraten, Hühnerbrust Geschnetzeltes. All of the German, Austrian, and Swiss specialties are prepared fresh daily by Chris Hammond, the owner and chef. For beer connoisseur, there’s a huge selection of German beers, and the wine list boasts many German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers. As hard as it may be, be sure to save room for dessert – read more here (Photo by Michael Cannon)
16. Magnolia Pancake Haus
Magnolia Pancake Haus has been serving up delicious and filling bacon-stuffed waffles and apple-cinnamon pancakes to hungry San Antonio diners since 2000. The walls are filled with awards and the booths are filled with happy customers at this bustling cafe. Melt-in-your-mouth pancakes come from an old Norwegian recipe and are the star of the breakfast menu, but there’s also tempting omelets and house-made corned beef hash. Breakfast items are also available for lunch, but there’s also many tempting sandwiches and burgers – read more here (Photo by Steven Perez)
17. Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar
Zinc Bistro & Wine Bar is located in an historic building in downtown San Antonio with a great outdoor courtyard seating area. The intimate European vibe makes it a great place to relax and converse while partaking of champagne or a martini. The menu is upscale, creative Southwestern cuisine. Start things off with a Prickly Pear Margarita layered with prickly pear cactus pureé. Specialties include the Zinc Burger with smokey cheddar, parmesan tuiles, and spicy tomato aioli, and the Herb Roasted Colorado Lamb Sandwich with grilled red onions and peach chutney – read more here (Photo by ian)
18. Green Vegetarian Cuisine
Green Vegetarian Cuisine‘s Vegetarian comfort food is fresh and plentiful and served with a smile, and they continually win various awards for having the best vegetarian food in San Antonio. Green’s is located in the Pearl Brewery downtown, and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Specialties include the Avocado Eggs Benedict served on a Toasted Roll, smothered in Chipotle Hollandaise and served with side of Hash Browns, and the Portabella Burger smothered in A-1 Steak Sauce with Caramelized Onion, Field Greens, Tomato and Chipotle Mayo – read more here (Photo by Christine H.)
19. The Station Cafe
The Station Cafe is an historic gas station in the King William Historic District that Jon and Stacie Rowe converted into a small (300 square feet) restaurant in 2006. The pizza is very good, and sandwiches are made from scratch and are excellent, and in 2012 they expanded into space next door and now have the Filling Station Tap Room in the original space. The place was originally mostly for take-out since there was very little room for seating – just two small tables inside and a few outside. They started with pizzas by the slice made with homemade dough before branching out into sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread. Everything is made in-house, including salad dressings, spicy sauces, and their incredible chocolate cake and coconut cream pie. There’s plenty of seating at the new place, the prices are very reasonable, and there’s plenty of healthy options – read more here (Photo by Jim Gillette)
20. Chris Madrid’s Nachos & Burgers
Chris Madrid’s Nachos & Burgers has been a San Antonio institution since it opened in 1977 in the Midtown neighborhood. San Antonio loves to turn their old gas stations into restaurants, and Chris Madrid’s arguably serves the best burger in town. Unfortunately, Chris Madrid, the owner and namesake, died in 2012. Everything comes in either regular or macho size. Beer, wine, margaritas and cocktails are available. Try the Tostada Burger – Homemade Refried Beans, Chips, Onions, Cheddar Cheese on a Beef Patty and topped with Homemade Salsa – read more here (Photo by H. Michael Karshis)
21. Guenther House
Guenther House is One of the Top 5 Breakfast Picks in Texas according to Southern Living magazine. The restaurant is housed in a historic home in the King William District and is famous for it’s biscuits, waffles, pancakes, pastries, etc.
• Southern Sweet Cream Waffle – a light and crisp Belgian Waffle made with the San Antonio River Mill Southern Sweet Cream Waffle Mix.
• Breakfast Tacos – two Breakfast Tacos made with White Wings Flour Tortillas wrapped around choice of Egg, Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Country Sausage, Refried Beans or Potatoes. Served with fresh Seasonal Fruit or Pioneer Seasoned Breakfast Potatoes.
The Guenther House was built in 1860 by Carl Hilmar Guenther, who made his fortune by founding Pioneer Flour Mills. Admire the beautiful property and grounds while working off breakfast – read more here (Photo by Sheila Scarborough)
22. Bohanan’s Prime Steak and Seafood
Bohanan’s Prime Steak and Seafood has been ranked as the 2nd Best Steakhouse in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine which, considering how much Texas love their steak, is saying a lot. Bohanan’s was the first restaurant in the United States to serve Akaushi beef from Japan, where special attention to diet and environment results in an extra tender and healthy steak, which is then wet-aged and grilled over mesquite.
• Colossal Lump Crabmeat Cocktail.
• Chateaubriand for Two Served with Sauce Bearnaise, Duchesse Potatoes, Jumbo Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce.
23. Madhatters Tea House and Cafe
Madhatters Tea House and Cafe is part tea room and part hipster hang-out. Located in the King William Historic District, Madhatters has been featured in the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler magazine. The vibe is warm and relaxing – great for conversation, reading or working on a laptop. Excellent salads, granolas and breakfast burritos.
Huevos Madcheros – 2 Fried Eggs atop Breakfast Potato Hash and covered in Warm Mad Salsa. Add Bacon, Ham or Sausage.
• English French Toast with Strawberries, Bananas, Powdered Sugar, Whipped Cream, Syrup, Breakfast Potato Hash.